Issue 50

My Black and White Pages

timemachineposterA friend from my high school days I’m still in touch with recently sent me a package. I opened it up to find a note saying she had been rummaging in her basement and came across something she thought I might like to see. There, in remarkably fresh condition, lifted from the depths of the sinkhole of time without any visible traces of mold or mildew, was the bold black masthead on crisp white photo-offset paper of the last issue of Frox, the underground newspaper that we and several others published in 1967 – 1970. (For more on Frox, see It Was 40 Years Ago Today).

google-translate-travel-382x255As I glanced through the vaguely familiar pages I winced and found that reading this issue out of context in 2016 was like being dropped by helicopter into a tumultuous moment in time – akin to entering a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and don’t have a 2016-1970 dictionary to help translate and even Google, which is fluent in 103 languages, is of no help. The exuberance of our youthful idealism was admirable but when viewed in the rear view mirror of historical context some of its glimmer is inevitably tarnished. In Dylan’s words from his classic My Back Pages,

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats

Too noble to neglect,

Deceived me into thinking

I had something to protect,

Good and bad, I define these terms

Quite clear, no doubt, somehow

Ah, but I was so much older then,

I’m younger than that now.

bernie-and-hillaryHistory and time have taught us the changes we sought are not easy and don’t come over night. But this timely retrospective got me wondering how our younger (i.e., older) selves would have reacted to the political chaos of American presidential politics of 2016. How would we have handled the disappointment of Bernie’s near upset in this year’s Democratic primary?

Would we have had the maturity to understand and appreciate the incremental victory in moving Hillary and the Dems to the left and the importance of mobilizing to prevent at all costs the nightmare of electing a racist, xenophobic, fascist, nihilistic  megalomaniac as president? Or would we have hopped on the Bernie or Bust jalopy whose windshield was so covered in the dirt of HRC’s unscrupulous campaign that we couldn’t see the highway for the campaign trail?

mccarthy-for-president-pinBack in 1968, Gene McCarthy was the Bernie Sanders style elder statesman and senator who stepped up to risk his political career and start a movement. Like Bernie, he quickly became a spokesman for progressive Democrats and galvanized huge support among those who were mobilizing against the Vietnam War.   And like Bernie, Gene came up short in his bid to win the presidential nomination, but his victory to legitimize and build the movement against the war was huge. So much so that he caused LBJ, the sitting president to decide not to run for re-election.

chicacago-1968-riotMcCarthy was not going to win the nomination but we were pretty damn angry after the Chicago convention because of the undemocratic, back room manipulations and brutality in the streets.  If we were of age, we certainly wouldn’t have voted for Humphrey or Nixon in ’68…but Humphrey’s continuation of LBJ’s legacy is not comparable with Hillary continuing Barack’s; nor was Nixon (as evil as he was) comparable with today’s GOP nutcase nominee.

trumpFast forwarding to 2016, I hope that today’s youthful idealists, proud ‘neath heated brow don’t boycott the election or waste their votes on non-electable third party or write-in candidates. While it may not be black and white, there are enough shades of dark and light gray to clearly illuminate the choices at hand.

I don’t see a path for a GOP victory but it boggles my mind how closely Trump is polling. So a large voter turnout is critical to ensure Clinton’s victory over Trump, but even more importantly to take advantage of GOP vulnerabilities in House, Senate, State, and local races. The Republicans have shown over the past eight years that they have no interest in governing and in selecting the Donald they’ve gone totally off the rails – we should fully expect more of the same or worse if they maintain control of Congress and State governments.

Click below for  Dylan along with Roger McGuinn, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, and George Harrison at the 30th Anniversary Concert, Madison Square Garden, 1992.


Published on September 12, 2016 at 12:51 am  Comments (3)  

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  1. Good post Paul. I think I’m not the only person suffering from “HC-TISCBMW” (Holy Crap-That Ignorant Scary Crazy Bastard Might Win) It’s characterized by:
    checking news-links multiple times per day to see what the latest poll numbers are;
    feelings of depression every time Hillary stumbles by being defensive, physically ill, name-calling Trump supporters, etc.
    Bringing the election into nearly every conversation.
    Having sick feelings when associating with people who are voting for he who shall not be named.
    So– break out the ol mimeograph machine and print up another Frox.

    Editor’s Response: Thanks Stevie (not to be confused with another Steve who commented below). I think half the country is sick with anxiety trying to imagine life under He Who Would be King – of the remainder some have been snookered by his lies and deception, some have bought into his xenophobic paranoia, and let’s face it, some are in fact, racists. Sure it was politically incorrect for Hillary to call half of his supporters “deplorable” but Ta-Nahisi Coates made some excellent points on this issue in an interview with Chris Hayes last night ( For example, 49% of Trump supporters believe African Americans are more violent than whites, 66% think Obama is a Muslim, and 61% think he wasn’t born in the U.S. Are these not racist views? Why is all the attention placed on the messenger with no discussion about what these statistics say about a sizable portion of the American public? The rise of the Tea Party culminating in the current state of affairs can be directly traced to and correlated with the election of the first African American president. It’s not too difficult to connect the dots yet the subject of racism is the elephant in the room.


  2. I think that we will be getting more than just a few moderate judges should Hillary Clinton win. One can plausibly argue that even though Bernie is obviously further to the left than HIllary, she will be able to accomplish more than Bernie given her experience in the executive branch. She has committed herself to modest redistributive fiscal policies, and has demonstrated a better understanding of the complexities of our fiscal system. Breaking up the too big to fail banks as Bernie wants to do in and of itself would not ending the lack of taxation on earning registered out of the country, address the complexities of credit default swaps and other complicated financial deregulations. Hillary Clinton during the primaries had actually spent more time discussing real progressive proposals to address fiscal reform than Bernie did. She is also as good on social spending as Bernie, and has discussed plans for green investment as an important part of re-investment and economic stimulation. Will she be as good as Bernie on campaign finance reform as Bernie ?, no, but she has committed to doing something. She has committed to appointing Supreme Court Justices to vote down Citizens’ United. I am most concerned about her significantly more hawkish foreign policy, and I admit to concerns about what she would do as President. I think that it is very natural for people to support politicians who we agree with, and with that support it is human nature to be critical of the opposition- in this case Hillary. As a progressive who continues to do community organizing , I feel that it is incumbent upon all of us to acknowledge that the perfect is not the enemy of the good- and I believe Hillary Clinton deserves our active support


    Editor’s response: Thanks Steve. While I respectfully disagree with your assessment of Hillary’s political motives (I basically see her as a center-left chameleon whose progressive proposals were a direct result of Bernie’s unprecedented and unexpected success; when push comes to shove and despite her denials, she’s beholden to Wall St.; her handling of email gate was embarrassingly bush league; she has a lousy stand on public ed., and as you point out, she is a hawk on foreign policy), I was pleased to see that Bernie did the right thing to unify the party and wholeheartedly endorsed her. I had my issues with Bernie too – he had trouble communicating as effectively as he might have and could have gone deeper in the weeds on a number of issues. But that’s all water under the bridge and compared to the Donald, the differences between Hillary and Bernie are in the noise range. I couldn’t agree more that we must do everything we can to get the vote out and ensure that Hillary is elected.


  3. I think your comments on the post primary choice facing Bernie supporters are right on the money. It is clear that with a Trump presidency, Guiliani as Attorney General and even worse guys in the Security apparatus, our right to protest would be suppressed and protesters jailed etc. Clinton is no bargain but with her we might get some moderate justices on the Supreme Court.

    Note that even with a “liberal” Obama in the presidency, a warrant for the arrest of Amy Goodman was issued by the North Dakota authorities because she reported as journalist the unlawful attacks on the Native American Indians who were protesting the building of a pipeline on their lands.
    When a journalist can be arrested just for doing her job as a journalist without it being reported in any of the media when we have a Democratic President, just think of what might happen to protesters under a Republican President. Incidentally there was no word in the NY Times about the arrest warrant for Amy Goodman, but their editorial did complain about the treatment of journalists in Mexico.
    Bernie supporters also have the need to get active in forming local Our Revolution groups in their communities so the fight for the progressive program that Bernie espoused can be fought for in the political arena.


    Editor’s Response: Thanks Herb, well stated. I was unaware of the situation with Amy Goodman – that’s outrageous. Of course there have been numerous disappointments in Obama’s presidency but in this particular case it seems he was able to use his executive power to stall and hopefully squash the pipeline being installed against the wishes of the local Native Americans


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